October 1 - Hebrews 1:1-4

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 1 – Hebrews 1:1-4

What a fun class I’m taking this semester.  Hebrews Exegesis.

This means that we closely read the text, look at the context in which it was written and work to understand the theology that was behind the writing of the book as well as theology that developed out of the book.  This is some of my favorite stuff ever!

There is no certainty about the author or the audience of Hebrews. There is plenty of speculation, but without knowing who those two parties actually are, it makes it that much more difficult to comprehend the meaning behind the text and the purpose for which it was written.

But, there are still plenty of exciting things to look at and the first chapter of Hebrews begins right away with an introduction that can take your breath away!

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

In the past God spoke through prophets
In these last days, he has spoken by his Son
God appointed his Son heir (1)
God made the universe through His Son (2)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory (3)
The Son is the exact representation of his being (4)
The Son sustains all things by his powerful word. (5)

After he had provided purification for sins (6)
he sat down at God’s right hand. (7)
He is superior to the angels
His name is superior to theirs.

The first thing the author does is remind his readers (and this always includes us) of their place in time.  We are part of a world that knows of God’s Son.  How important is this Son? Wow.  Look at the accolades the author pours on Him.  He is the one through whom everything is created.  He is the heir of God.

The next two things we discover about the Son is that he is the ‘radiance’ (or reflection) of God’s glory and the exact representation of God.  These two words are only used here in the New Testament.  There aren’t a lot of words that are only used one time, but here are two of them.

The first word, apaugasm, is the sense of radiating the brightness of the source.  The second word, charakter, means an imprint or representation - like the head of Washington on a nickel in our purse, but in this case an exact reproduction of God.   Our word character comes from this through Latin and Middle English and means a distinctive quality, a mark or a sign on a person.

In these first four verses, the author of Hebrews sets the stage for his sermon, which is quite different from epistles (letters) of the New Testament.  This is an introduction, he is presenting points that he will expand.

Notice that I put numbers after seven things regarding the Son.  Seven things.  This number continues to be found throughout scripture.  These seven facts about the Son are there to show his superiority and the reason he should be in the position God placed him – at God’s right hand.

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at the angels over whom the Son is superior. And we'll see another seven.